Little League Baseball: What you don’t know
Little League Baseball was founded in 1939 by Carl Stotz a long time resident of Williamsport, PA. Mr. Stotz found interested children during the summer of 1939 and created the first set of rules and field dimensions for his baseball program, thus the birth of Little League Baseball as we know it.
Mr. Stotz worked with the local community to provide a facility and support for his program. In the first year the league had three team managers which were George Bebble, Bert Bebble and himself. The collected $30 donations form three sponsors to purchase uniforms for the teams. Lycoming Dairy, Lundy Lumber and Jumbo Pretzel were the first sponsors. All games for the first season were played in a vacant log near the outfield fence of Bowman Field that is current sitting in Williamsport, PA and the how of the Little League Baseball World Series.
In 1940 a second league was formed and modeled after Mr. Stotz’s program. Players were placed on teams based on the area from which they came from. This draw program is basically the same program Little League Baseball uses today.
War years were a little tough on the organization and the original field was taken over by war production. The found continued to support and get the word out about the league. During this time the Little League moves to Max Brown Memorial Park. Mr. Stotz created the Little League logo that becomes the symbol of Little League Baseball.
In 1942 Ed Yonkin pitches the first no-hitter in Little League Baseball while pitching for Lundy Lumber. In 1943 a fence was added to the outfield of the original field.
Mr. Stotz was drafted into the armed services in 1944 but due to a regulation change he remained in Williamsport and Little League Baseball continued to be his passion. Little League Baseball was expanding throughout Pennsylvania during the years to follow and by 1946 there were 12 leagues playing games in the state and operated as part of Little League Baseball.
In 1947 Hammonton, NJ was given the first Little League Organization outside the state of Pennsylvania. The first Little League World Series which was called the National Little League Trouanement was won by the Maynard Midgets of Williamsport. Sonny Yearick played little league baseball in 1939 went on to be the first Little League player to play professional baseball. He played for the Boston Braves organization.
By 1948 the league grows to 94 leagues through the US mainly the east coast down to Florida. The second World Series was wan by Lock Haven, PA over a team from St. Petersburg, FL.
Little League Baseball obtained its first corporate sponsor in U.S. Rubber (now Uniroyal) which provide support for a number of years.
To be continued…..
In our next post we will look at the 1950′s and the explosive growth of Little League Baseball.
Little League Baseball continued to grow as the 1950′s came around. Community involvement increased throughout the country and corporate sponsorship started to take off.
In 1950 the first Little League games outside the U.S. were played around the Panama Canal area and as 1951 came the first permanent Little League Baseball was formed in British Columbia, Canada representing the first permanent league outside the United States.
By the end of 1951 Little League Baseball had grown to 776 programs.
The growth of the league caused a lot of administrative issues so in 1952 the league attempted to create a more organized structure by hiring the first full-time President of Little League Baseball. Peter J. McGovern was there man to establish firm leadership within the organization. By the end of 1952 the league had grown to over 1500 programs and Connie Mack was a visitor to the World Series.
A milestone of great proportions came in 1953 with the first televised Little League Baseball World Series with Howard Cosell handling the play-by-play.
In 1954 Boog Powell who became the third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles played Little League Baseball for a Lakeland, FL team in the World Series. By the end of 1954 the league had 3,300 leagues throughout the United States.
In 1955 Cy Young comes to visit the Little League World Series prior to his death late that year. Mr. Stotz, found of Little League Baseball served as a pallbearer at his funeral.
By the end of 1955 Little League Baseball was being played in 48 states and 9 year old future President George W. Bush plays for the Central Little League in Midland, TX.
In 1956 due to several disputes and legal action Carl Stotz ends his relationship with the Little League Baseball organization that he founded. During this time the Little League Foundation was created and the organization had grown to over 4,000 leagues.
In 1957 a non-U.S. team won the World Series for the first time. They repeated in 1958 and Monterrey, Mexico defeated Portland, OR to take the title.
In 1959 Dr. Creighton J. Hale, Research Director of Little League Baseball developed the modern protective helmet as we know it. This year the World Series was played at it’s present site for the first time and the organization had grown to over 5,000 leagues throughout the U.S.
The second week of June was declared the National Little League Week by President Eisenhower.
In our next post we will take a look at the continued growth and the many changes coming to Little League Baseball during the 1960′s.